In my honest opinion it boils down to 4 factors - money, structure, popularity, enforcement
Fact is hockey does not have the maturity, depth, and ground structure that football offers to the community neither does it pull in the $$$$ as compared to football
Management of competitions, development and training have NEVER been properly attended to nor enforced as they do not have long term planning or the conviction. There is no structured calendar and it is always a yo-yo decision making year after year. There are facts
almost all states are reliant to government or development funding, the ability to raise fund and build on their own if difficult, all state hockey association do not have ground they own to manage or any form of revenue generation form naming right to jersey sponsorship
because the sport of hockey at national level is played seasonally for a period of 2 or 3 months there is no continued competiton for players. You have the national league for a period of 5-12 weeks and thats about it, the rest of the year the clubs who tie these players for a contract over a year do not have much to do.
State competitions too are minimal and short, this is both due to cost of taking partner in long terms competition versus national team calendar.
Note : Our national team is one of the most traveled and has the longest training camp compared to any of the top 10 playing nations in the world
Most states do not have league or even proper playing venue, those that do are at the mercy of the state to pay rental fees etc etc, when it come to maintenance or replacing the turf the states rather let it become a white elephant case in point Selangor having 2 turf and both not playable...and they organize their league games in KL!!!
Getting a SOP out for tournament rules, disciplinary action, stadium requirements are there but not enforced. Selangor Hockey Association introduced a code of conduct for all players and officially to sign for any tournament organized, match official are also trained in game situation, methodology of writing reports and review of match sheets but this is not emulated at national competition and national level.
So when it comes to disciplinary action ther eis always going to be a grey line of application.
We do not have SOP on club transfers, so what club do is tied down players to year long contracts, there is no transfer fees coz the rules do not apply when it comes to player eligibility and not economically viable
In review of the MHL, the amount of money spent on the team for a 2 month competition is far more bigger then the prize money, granted we have airtime on ASTRO but you got to go out there and market the league, sell it as a package, tie up corporations to club 2+1 contracts, we are not doing that. Any medium sized corporation given the air time the league team gets on ASTRO would be able to sell its position on a jersey or team name.
There is also an ambiguity of sponsorship, TNB give MHF the money but all the money is channeled to the league, one party claims they are already giving money to the national body, should that not be filtered down to the states, another party says the money is only for the league and shockingly this is a 7 figure sum.
If MHF are serious about marketing the league then they should bring into consideration license of players, while it may be cumbersome on the initial application over the long term the requirement for a players license will help regulate the add on effects of players transfer, ownership. the overall goal is to raise the standards of the league.
I do not blame if one club dominates the league as they have the financial muscle for it, but I am against the notion that they need to be curtailed. Hockey in Malaysia has more then just 20 great payers, its a matter for getting them, training them and developing then, the onus for this like with the clubs and states.
We do not have a structured calendar compared to football which is very seasonal our calendar depends on the result. For example in 2010 if we do not qualify for the Olympics then calendar changes, if we qualify national hockey competitions is put on hold.
Without national players in the league it is very hard to attract sponsors, raise the standards of the league and increase viewership.